Raven and the Hummingbird

A Healing Path to Recovery from Multiple Personality Disorder

Non-Fiction - Relationships
580 Pages
Reviewed on 05/14/2023
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

A WWII and domestic violence survivor, Ms. Caldwell has been an educator, a journalist, and a Licensed Professional Counselor with more than 20 years of practice experience. She received a Women in Film Award for the documentary No Key to Turn which chronicles urban-barrio housing conditions in El Paso, TX. In 1996, she received recognition from FEMA’s Project Heartland for her work in counseling victims of domestic terrorism in Oklahoma City. A member of the International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation, she lives with her husband and family in Norman, Oklahoma.

Raven and the Hummingbird won the Literary Titan Book Award and was selected as a finalist for the OK Center for the Book Award. The book has received 19 5-STAR reader reviews on Amazon and 5 5-STAR Editorial Reviews.

It is a book of hope. Hope for those afflicted with Multiple Personality Disorder/Dissociative Identity Disorder. Hope for their families, caregivers, and friends. Hope for the possibility of healing.
The narrative is intended to inspire more mental health professionals to accept the challenge of treating those with MPD/DID. And to encourage their understanding and empathy for its complexities.
The book apprises teachers, school counselors, medical health professionals, and emergency first responders to the specific behaviors and symptoms exhibited by those with the Disorder.
Raven and the Hummingbird dispels misperceptions and skepticism about MPD/DID, provides general audiences with a deeper understanding of the Disorder, and makes transparent the nature of healing practices utilized in psychotherapy.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Asher Syed for Readers' Favorite

In the non-fiction work Raven and the Hummingbird, Renate Caldwell chronicles the therapeutic process undertaken with a patient named Joan who suffered from Multiple Personality Disorder consequent to severe childhood abuse. To mitigate the effects of her trauma, Joan resorted to various identities, allowing her to dissociate from the distressing memories. In the course of the years of lengthy therapy, Caldwell acquaints herself with the different personas Joan embodies, each signifying a remnant of a past experience. Through these exchanges, Caldwell endeavors to piece together the gruesome events that Joan endured and the alternate realities she constructed to shield herself from harm, and how to consolidate the personalities back to the one person who needed them: Joan.

Raven and the Hummingbird is a compelling work that provides a poignant account of one individual's journey to recovery from the ramifications of severe childhood abuse, alongside exploring the therapeutic techniques that aid in the process of overcoming trauma. Although the book is beautifully and compassionately written, I had to take breaks while reading it because of the emotional toll Joan's life was having on my own. I am not an empath but reading the work by Renate Caldwell was as close as I think I have ever been to feeling like one, which means the book is doing what it is meant to do. By this, I mean educating on a level that a reader will never forget and not sugar-coating a patient's experience for the sake of softening the unsoftenable. From an academic perspective, Caldwell has written a marvel of a psychology text that should be required reading for those in the field. I've never come across anything like it, for better or for worse. Exceptional.

Jamie Michele

Raven and the Hummingbird: A Healing Path to Recovery from Multiple Personality Disorder by Renate Caldwell is a non-fiction psychology book in which the author describes years of talking therapy with a patient who was systemically abused throughout her childhood. The patient is called Joan and as a defense mechanism, Joan would slip into any of her more than four-dozen personalities to escape physical and emotional pain and to almost delegate fragments of the sexual abuses inflicted upon her so that no single 'alter' of her Multiple Personality Disorder would have to carry the full burden. As the therapy progresses and Caldwell gets to know Joan and the different alters, each of whom comes out to speak with her, the revelation of what Joan was forced to endure, and both the personalities and places she created to mentally escape, begin to form a larger, more comprehensive story. And it is in these breakthroughs that Caldwell starts to see a path toward healing.

Raven and the Hummingbird is deeply intense and the amount of insight author Renate Caldwell is able to present to readers is extraordinary. The book is written by date in a format reminiscent of journal entries, which those who work in psychology will recognize as an advanced form of clinical notes. Some parts of the entries are handwritten and include sketched artwork that Joan, or rather one or more of her personalities, have crafted. The Raven of the title is one of the more prominent alters that Joan reveals. Caldwell encourages Joan to turn toward Raven when her memories become unbearable. “Reach out to Raven for help. He will call the others to gather in the Meadow to listen, empathize, and comfort you.” I knew going in that this book would be really hard to get through but wasn't prepared for the frequency and intensity of what was described and became physically ill during a particular incident in which Joan is subjected to horrific treatment. The book is well-written and without ambiguity, making it an excellent resource and reference for those in the field. Very highly recommended.

Robin Goodfellow

The Raven and the Hummingbird, by Renate F. Caldwell, is a hauntingly beautiful story about a woman’s therapeutic journey as she tries to find a way to cope with her fragmented personality. The book is separated into six parts. Unfolding details Renate’s first encounters with Joan, a woman diagnosed with multiple personality disorder (MPD), and introduces different alters, or parts, that have both helped and hindered Joan. Telling Secrets reveals more of the parts hidden away from Renate, and hints at the ominous presence known as the Shadow Man hovering nearby. Suffering Through delves into each part’s role in helping Joan cope with the pain she experienced in her childhood and adolescence while carefully beginning the painstaking process of integrating. Soul Shattering provides the spiraling revelation of Joan being one of the parts created to protect Joanna. Transcending the Past details Joan’s brave journey in attempting to confront the realities that her mother had shoved her into and her courageous endeavors to resolve the resentment she felt toward her mother. Finally, A Vibrant Mandala illustrates who Joan truly is, with all her parts coming together, signifying a job well done for Renate and Joan.

Those with multiple personality disorders are often accused of lying about their alters for attention. As such, I appreciated Renate F. Caldwell’s sensitivity to the subject matter. I especially loved how Caldwell compared integrating Joan’s parts to creating a mandala, an explanation befitting the wondrous techniques she used to heal Joan. Moreover, I liked how Caldwell mapped out each part’s role and depicted the complex world Joanna created to protect herself psychologically. One of my favorite parts of the book was the fights between the parts and the Shadow Man. It was almost like an epic battle of good and evil, something you’d find in a fantasy novel about knights and dragons. However, Caldwell carefully stripped away the bravado the Shadow Man crafted and used his vulnerabilities and desires to strengthen Joan as a whole. With eye-opening illustrations from Joan herself, the fantastical descriptions outlined in the book, and the authentic depiction of the therapeutic relationship between Renate and Joan, this book is exceptional. It would be excellent for those interested in pursuing the mental health profession. It would pair well with other books, such as Irvin Yalom’s Love’s Executioner and Other Tales of Psychotherapy and DIBS: In Search of Self by Virginia Maxline.